How Are Insurance Companies Involved in the Veterinary Space?

September 29, 2016
VMD Staff

TJ Houk, chief data officer of Data and Analytics at Trupanion, how insurance companies are involved in the veterinary space.

TJ Houk, chief data officer of Data and Analytics at Trupanion, explains how insurance companies are involved in the veterinary space.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“One of the unique things for us as actuaries is that in the pet space, we end up dealing with a wide range of different animals that we need to rate for and understand so, for example, in the human health space, you pretty much know a human is a human for the most part, and you have different ages and things like that but it’s much more dramatic in the pet space, where you have to understand cats, understand small dogs, large dogs, and all the breed-specific conditions they come in, so that means about 400 different distinct animals [that] you’re looking at in addition to geographical cost of care and ages. Also interesting in the pet space is that age curve is compressed and so, from our standpoint in the actuarial space, a lot of us came from human healthcare, where we were able to look at people over the course of 80 years or so and understand all of these different trends over a long period of time; that entire time frame is compressed with pets, so it creates an interesting, new dynamic for us.

From a marketplace standpoint, obviously a big difference is that in human healthcare, the insurance company is very involved in the practice and in the veterinary space, the insurance companies are largely there to help, but generally aren’t as embedded in the practice. So, all of the insurance companies that worked really hard to not be obtrusive in the workflow and they want to be partners without making a lot of extra cost on the veterinarians, [when it comes to] billing and things like that, so, it’s the insurance companies that have invested a lot into trying to make sure that that isn’t the way that process goes for the veterinarian; that they’ll have a smooth and seamless process between the services and the clients getting either reimbursed or for the insurance company to just pay the veterinarian directly without going through a complicated process. The insurance companies have been taking a much more servant's attitude towards the veterinarians and are really trying to partner with them.”